A brief overview of my MFJ 1788 loop antenna.

The antenna
Overall I have been very pleased with the purchase of the MFJ 1788 loop antenna. Considering the location I am in and the restrictions of a condo such as.....concrete all around you, other buildings blocking your signal, very small space to put an antenna and power level must be kept low as to not affect the neighbors. After doing considerable searching for the right antenna for this location it boiled down to this antenna. The power I run is 5 watts max and this is not new for me as I have been a QRP op for years now. Below are the reasons why I am pleased with this antenna to be followed by some of the not pleasing things about the antenna.
1. Very small foot print for an antenna that will give you 15m to 40m.
2. The antenna can be used mounted horizontally or vertically.
3. Once you get used to the tuning it's very fast and easy to tune.
4. I covered my antenna with as to keep it low profile and it works no problem with the cover.
5. The antenna remote control can operate either on AC or batteries.
6. Can be mounted on a simple tri-pod.

Some of the draw backs
1. The quality of the antenna is low, I had to make some adjustments to make it work as it should.
2. The band width is narrow and retuning has to be down often.
3. The SWR meter in the remote control unit is not very reliable.
4. Buzzer used to tell you the coarse tuning has finished is VERY hard to hear.
Repairing Cap spacing

On air results with this antenna have been good, with regards to receiving I have been able to hear the Middle East, South Pacific, Europe, South America and of coarse North America. Now hearing a station and contacting the station is another ball of wax. With my power restrictions I have made some very satisfying contacts. My modest signal has made it into South America, all parts of Europe, Iceland and Africa so far. There are two Loop antennas that MFJ makes and if I was to make the choice again I would had gone with the MFJ 1786 as it covers 10m to 30m. I have found with this antenna there is no way to tune it below 15m. The characteristic of the tuning capacitor will not allow it. I have read the MFJ 1788 is like a wet noodle on 40m and it's true I have not been able to make it into the U.S. The MFJ 1786 would had been a better choice with more band opportunities.   
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

8 Responses to “A brief overview of my MFJ 1788 loop antenna.”

  • Marc Cardinal, VA2MVC:

    Thanks so much for the review, I was hesitating between the those two models (1786, 1788) for a while now but I think it will be 1786.

  • Mike ve3wdm:

    Good morning Marc, great to read your choice has been made. Do email me and give me your impressions of the antenna once you are able to start using it.
    Mike

  • David Wells KV4VE:

    Thanks for the real world review! I still have dipoles for now, but am looking at moving into an “antenna adverse” neighborhood in the near future, so am really glad to see the postings with practical experiences and opinions of alternative antennas! Keep us posted!!

  • K7ZOV Harry:

    I have the MFJ-1786 now for a few years. About 15 yrs ago I have the 1788 and liked it but had a hell of a time with it on 40 meters. The Q is extremely tight and I found hard to tune. The 1786 I have is used mostly with WSPR, PSK31 and other digital modes since it can be tuned and you don’t have to keep re-tuning with every QSO up and down the band. It is not just the MFJ product. All loop, like the popular Alex Loop or even home made ones have the same issue. You go chasing up and down the band or like band hoping you will just have to live with retuning, like it or not. Digital and CW you can park yourself easily at one place and work that freq all day. SSB you really do need to run up and down the band more. In general the loop antenna is outstanding. I like mine. Have had little problems with it, other then the fact we have had much more wind then usual and mine is on a pole going up 20+ ft. The wind really banks it around and does do some de-tuning. Not much, but enough to bug me to a level where I might take it down and seeing if I can get some of the slop out of it. But I have been saying that for months and the problem has been so minor I just have not done it yet.

  • Harry N4HG:

    I have had the 1786 since the 1990’s! It is mounted on a short piece of TV mast to a roof tripod mount. Presently I live in a house in a ‘no outside antennas’ neighborhood and have the 1786 mounted horizontally in my attic. It works great. Especially on 15 and 10 meters. It does indeed have narrow bandwidth and has to be retuned after 10 or 15 kHz of frequency change but since I work mostly psk31 that isn’t any problem. The 1786 outperforms my G5RV (also attic mounted) on 15 and 10. An additional advantage is reduced noise. It is very quiet. It does work on 20 and 30 as well. I imagine its’ rather high price would offend many hams!

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning David, thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to comment. The antenna restrictive locations are now becoming more and more common. In my old home I was able to use the attic to my advantage. I used with great success the DXEE antenna. I had it in a Z config. Having said that I am glad to hear this review of the MFJ product has helped as well. Have a great what is left of the weekend!
    Mike

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Harry, I agree this antenna is idea for the digi modes and for sure the band width issue would not be a problem. I am a CW op (some digi) so the SSB is not an issue for this antenna. Thanks for the comment and I am sure the readers will find some additional answers from your comment.
    Mike

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Harry (N4HG) I was surprised and pleased to read that the loop out preformed the G5RV and certain bands! Also one of the advantages that I missed in my post and you pointed out and that is how quite the antenna is on the bands. Lastly I agree it is a high priced antenna.
    Mike

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